Tonight's post about winning and losing was written by one of our Marietta
When I meet new clients, most have two questions: (1) How much is this
going to cost and (2) How long will it take me to get divorced? The answer
is always that it depends. We have dealt with the former in previous blog
posts and doubtless will again, but what I want to address today is the
timing of these types of actions and why it can and often does take so long.
In Georgia, parties can get divorced in as quickly as thirty-one days.
However, that is only if all issues of assets, debts, property, child
custody and support are already decided and filed with the courts by then.
While this happens, it is rare. A more realistic goal is six months to a year.
The reason for this is parties need time to get organized, come together
on a new schedule for the children, evaluate incomes, property, asset
and debts to ensure that each party is getting a fair and equitable division
of the marriage.
A couple months ago, we had to move a court hearing back for something
outside the firm's control. The next available court date was forty-five
days later. At first, the client was very upset as she had prepared and
was ready to go to court and have her day in court. She had issues with
her spouse and wanted them dealt with now. She wanted alimony, child support
and a visitation schedule put in place.
The issue with accomplishing these objectives were he had thus far failed
to provide us with any of his financial documents so we had no accurate
idea how much she was legally entitled to in child support and alimony.
However, in her mind, at that time, we lost the war.
Not quite. You could argue that we lost a battle since she was right that
without a court order or a consent agreement, we could not force him to
pay alimony or child support. However, I knew there was a much bigger
war that would be won with a little patience.
As I envisioned, we used those forty-five days to do so much more. We pressed
discovery. We figured out exactly what assets and debts both parties had
and we let some of the emotion pass. We went to mediation and discussed
some of the issues that was concerning to both parties and came to
reasonable compromises on every single one of those issues.
Forty-five days later, the parties had settled all outstanding issues and
were granted a divorce. It saved her thousands of dollars in attorney's
fees and gave her a much better settlement overall than what we were asking
for at the original hearing.
Divorce can be like the story of the tortoise and the hare. It is not about
speed but accuracy. Slow and steady often wins the race. Life has battles
and they do not always go our way. We may not win every battle but with
a little patience and due diligence, we will work together to win every war.